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String Recommendation

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Suntower, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Suntower


    Nov 10, 2012

    As I wrote in my previous thread, I've had a BSX Allegro for 5 years now and it's been fine for utility... I mean, I use it almost exclusively on bar/club gigs and it's been -more- than fine for that purpose. Prior to that, I hadn't messed with upright since college (20 years ago).

    I've been having second thoughts about it recently because I'd like to get a lot more serious with upright, but before I give up on it I'm willing to give it another chance with a new set of strings.

    For whatever reason, when I got it, instead of the 'default' Spirocores, it came with Helicore Mediums (gold spirals?). I forgot why.

    I think maybe it's because they were supposed to be good 'all rounders'. I have not been entirely satisfied with them since day one.

    If possible:
    1. I'd like 'softer' or 'singier' strings. By that, I mean that these Helicores have always struck me as much harder on the fingers (left and right) than I recall from college. The bass sustains -fine- but I don't think it's the -strings- doing it. To -me- they have a very pronounced attack, but they really don't 'sing' without a -lot- of work.

    2. My other complaint is that I haven't had great luck developing my bowing with the BSX. Since I'm not asked to bow much on my gigs, I didn't sweat it, but I'd -like- to work on it. My beef with these strings is that the bow seems to 'slide' off the strings. I mean... it seems like I -really- have to concentrate -hard- to get it to grip. I used to think it was -me- or my cheap-o chinese bow, but I'm not so sure now...

    Again, these may be noob questions---sorry. I just never questioned things too much until now. But before I start -bass- shopping I wanna try this first.

    Also: I'm -seriously- broke (I won't get into the sob story but $200 for a new set of strings is RIDICULOUSLY EXTRAVAGANT for me.) The standard advice (try a bunch and see what's best!) just ain't gonna work for me... Realistically, I've got one shot at this so any advice on how to make a good choice would be MUCH appreciated.

    And again: THANKS!

  2. You might want to get used strings to try what you need. If you don't like them, you can sell them for almost the same price. Have a look at the classifieds.

    Some strings are a bit stiff at the beginning and therefor the sustain is a bit short and muffled. It might help if you put down one string at a time and run the whole length of the string (in different neding directions over your thump until the string gets more and evenly flexible over the whole length of the string. Then use very fine steel wool to polish the string (otherwise some metal might get into your finger while playing) and mount the string again. For me it took about one hour until the string was evenly flexible. I got an enourmous increase of sustain on E and A, the D and G was fine out of the sleeve for my taste.

    I doubt that a gold spiral is a D'Addario Helicore. Maybe a Kolstein Heritage. They have less sustain but are rather soft to the fingers. Or a D'Addario Zyex, but they have a more red/orange spiral. They are probably a bit stiff.

    A nice flexible steel string with a low tension is the Presto Balance Medium or the Eurosonic (which are probably the same string under a different brand for the US). Under the label Presto (in Europe) they are also available in light and ultralight tension, but even the medium set has a lower tension. And they bow very well.
    For good strings you need to invest at least $150 and $200 is just the middle area of double bass string prices. I think the Presto/Eurosonic are in this range, probably a bit more towards the lower end.

    For the bow: Grabbing the string with the bow depends a lot on the type and amount of rosin. But also on string type and bow hair. Black hair is rougher and grabs better (which does not mean than black hair is better in any case). If the outer surface of the string is well polished and therefor very smooth, it might help to put a bit of rosin on the string initially by sliding the rosin a few times along the bowing area of the string.

    There are (usually rather expensive) bows, that bow like butter, but even on an entry level bow you should be able to get an acceptable sound and note start. Maybe you should get some lessons for the bow or let some other bassist check if he can bow your instrument with your bow. If he can, you probably should take some lessons for bowing.
    You might need to check if you need a rehair of your bow. If you need that, you might want to get black hair this time.

    Double basses are not cheap, expect a few hundert dollars to get where you want to go.
    I would first ask a different player with experience what might be wrong. You might get a good advice where you should spend your money first.
  3. Gold spiral over navy blue = Helicore orchestrals
    Gold spiral over dark green = Helicore hybrids
    Gold spiral over ruby red = Helicore pizzicatos
    All three are available in three gauges.

    @DoubleMIDI: the Presto Balance are very hard to find here in North America. In fact I don't think anybody stocks them at all at the moment. The Eurosonics (polymer coated) are available but I'm not sure they'd please Suntower.
  4. Suntower


    Nov 10, 2012
    Thanks for the replies.

    100% sure: Gold spiral over dark green thread... Helicore mediums. I have the box.

    I also have an old set of steel strings I could try with solid red thread (Spirocore mediums?) I'm wondering if these are worth trying?

    Any other ideas?


  5. Spirocores are hight tension strings...
    They could also be Super-sensitive Red Labels. (if the silk at the peg-end have different colors)
    These are even more stiff than Spiros...

    Corellis (M gauge) are thin strings with low tension, and are arco-friendly, so they may be an option.
    (and they are not too costly)
  6. Suntower


    Nov 10, 2012
    Merci beaucoup,

    I am 99% certain that they are Spirocores.

    I will investigate Corellis.

    Unfortunately, Hammond-Ashley---which is -the- double bass store in Seattle, moved so now instead of being 1/2 mi from me they are now over an hour drive. Another downer... in my area virtually -no- high schools or colleges have a string program anymore--otherwise I'd bother the local band teacher.

    An expensive thing if you can't 'try before you buy'.

    In any case...


  7. Thanks Francois, so the Eurosonics seem to be the older Presto Nylonwound. I will keep that in mind.
    They are not good for bowing unless the surface in the bowing region of the string gets roughed up with some fine sandpaper I was told.

    I just put a used set of Presto Balance Hybrid Medium on a Stagg EUB and they are better than the stock strings. And they bowed well on my acoustic bass.

    Nice low tension bowing strings are SuperSensitive Supreme (mellow sound) or SuperSensitive Pinnacle (brighter sound and a tiny bit more tension than the Supreme).
    Personally I would prefer them over the Corellis M series which are rather bright (specially the 370) and weak on the lower strings. The SuperSensitive might be even cheaper than the Corellis.
    But my experience is that below some threshold lower tension strings are weak sounding, specially the thin steel core strings.

    If you can get a set the Innovation 140B are nice. If the sustain on E and A is lacking the bending over the thumb helps a lot to get a good sustain. And they bow really well. My favourite string on my acoustic bass. Lower tension, a bit thicker on the higher strings because of the braided synthetic core, good sustain, but less than Spiros. Not weak, but also not extremly powerful.
  8. Suntower


    Nov 10, 2012
    Are these usable with the under-string pickups of the BSX Allegro?



  9. @DoubleMidi
    Supremes have been discontinued, but the Pinnacles are still available.
    I'm not sure JC would find them much low tension though. (in comparison to the Helicore Hybrids he already have)
  10. Too bad. The Supremes were very good. I liked them better than the Pinnacles.
    Thank you for the information, Francois.

    The Innovation strings are available. They got the new cores and are producing again (but nobody told me, so I assumed there was still a production stop).
    So maybe a set of 140B would be nice for bowing.

    I even played the 140B with a big band today, and plucking at the end of the fingerboard, like I usually do, it sounded nice.